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Undercover secrets untol.., p.6

Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies, page 6

 

Undercover Secrets, Untold Lies
 


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  “What do you do for the city?” Gwen asked.

  “Dump truck driver. I move snow in winter and dirt from construction sites in summer. That son-of-a-bitch Wright would have me hauling dead bodies, if he got his way with me. No sir-eee…I didn’t give him an inch. He don’t like us black folk, that’s for sure,” Thomas said with disdain.

  “You’ve been very helpful, Mr. Thomas. Thank you,” Gwen said, handing him her card. “Please give me a call if you think of anything else.”

  “Yes’m.”

  When they reached the car, Gwen whistled softly and said, “Now isn’t that interesting. So Wright’s playing games to up his precinct’s performance scores. I wonder what else he’s been up to?”

  “Yeah, that really sucks. Those poor men don’t have a chance with Wright on their tails,” CC commented. “What are you going to do about it?”

  “For now, nothing. I can’t afford to jeopardize this investigation by reporting Wright. He’ll kick me off the case in a flash. But I’m sure going to record every infraction I hear about, along with all the crap he’s done to screw me up, and as soon as this thing’s wrapped up I’m going to the chief.”

  “That makes sense. He sure is making it rough on you,” CC sympathized.

  “Well, nothing I can do about it now. We’d better get to the precinct and see what the guys have come up with. Finding Kathy’s murderer is much more important than Wright’s offenses.”

  Chapter Eleven

  Brad and Scott were waiting for them when Gwen and CC walked into the squad room. They were talking to a stranger—a tall, muscular man in his midthirties with long, straggly, light brown hair. He was wearing jeans and a baggy army jacket which was frayed at the seams.

  Scott began the introductions. “Gwen and CC, this is Sergeant Tony Maglia from Vice. He’s been working the downtown area longer than anyone in the department. He has several informants and knows most of the regulars in the drug trade. I think he can help us a great deal.”

  “Welcome.” Gwen smiled, offering her hand. “We can sure use your help.”

  “Nice to meet you,” CC chimed in.

  “Hope I can get you what you need to nail the bastard responsible for your two murders,” Tony offered.

  “We were downtown this afternoon,” Gwen said, and told them about the strange conversation they’d had with Jaxon Thomas. “Does Wright really show up in that neighborhood and harass those poor people?”

  “Yep. He’s been doing that for years. He thinks he’s helping clean up the neighborhood, and it sure does make our precinct look good with all the arrests. But truth be known, he drives us nuts. We cringe when we see him drive up. As many arrests as he’s ordered us to make, he’s botched up plenty of undercover stings too. I know many of our guys have complained, but I think the brass just plays along with it now because Wright is so close to retirement,” Tony informed them.

  “Well, he’s being a royal pain in the ass in this investigation,” Scott said, outraged.

  “He’s not going away, so let’s deal with it,” Gwen proposed, surprised at the anger in Scott’s voice.

  “Hey, the hair found in the car is the exact match to those you found on Jeffries’ body,” Brad said, breaking the tension. “Now we just need a live body with the same chemistry. Sorry, no DNA, but we can prove they came from the same person. Oh, and the last person that called Kathy on her cell was the captain.”

  “That bastard let me think he hadn’t talked to her for a week. It would make sense that Kathy had been keeping close contact with her dad, especially since she knew she needed support for her child. Keep working on the hair, Brad,” Gwen ordered.

  “Here’s what we were able to find on the laptop,” he said, handing Gwen a stack of papers approximately three inches high.

  She groaned as she stuffed the papers in her briefcase. “What do you have, Scott?”

  “I rechecked the car. No trailer hitch. Doesn’t look like there ever was one. The bumper is smooth, no scratches. Brad had his hands full with the laptop, so I took the Holy Cross assignment. Met with a counselor by the name of…” Flipping his notebook open, Scott continued, “Marge O’Connor. She was of the opinion that Kathy was going to be successful with this intervention. It was her second time through the program, and Kathy had a positive attitude. She was doing everything she needed to do in order to stay clean. Mrs. O’Connor didn’t know Kathy was dead; was really shaken up about it. Kathy told her about her pregnancy and how she really wanted to get off the drugs for good. There was no doubt in O’Connor’s mind that Kathy would have been able to ‘chase away her demons’ this time around.”

  “That’s so sad,” CC said softly.

  “Well, let’s keep at it guys,” Gwen said determinedly. “Good job so far, and now let’s nail this monster!”

  “My car’s on the second-floor parking lot,” CC said, walking out of the meeting with Gwen.

  “I can drive you up there,” Gwen offered.

  “Okay. Sure.”

  When they got to CC’s car, Gwen had an idea. She didn’t want to end this day just yet.

  “Hey, I’ve got a bottle of red wine and shrimp salad back at my place. Ah, if you’re interested.”

  “Umm…that really sounds good. Are you sure you still want my company?”

  “You bet! I can’t think of anybody I’d rather be with.”

  * * *

  When they got to Gwen’s duplex, CC marveled to Gwen at how neat and tidy, and unusual—fascinating, was the word she used—the bungalow was. The older red brick building was divided into two large residences. Gwen’s unit had two bedrooms and a spacious kitchen all in white with a sunflower border along the ceiling. There was a rustic pine built-in corner breakfast nook. Rows of copper pans and cooking utensils lined the wall above the sink. The living room was small, but comfy, with dozens of brown and beige pillows in a variety of sizes stacked in a corner and on top of the brown suede overstuffed sofa. It and a matching recliner faced a fieldstone fireplace. There were old nautical pieces everywhere; the end tables were made from brass portholes and the coffee table was a glass-covered ship’s steering wheel. An antique hourglass stood on the fireplace mantel and an old propeller blade was attached to the wall above it. A floor- to-ceiling bookshelf contained a number of marine and sailing books, as well as a generous assortment of crime novels. CC was also intrigued by the numerous volumes of police, pathology and forensic science educational publications.

  “This place is always quiet.” Gwen spoke loudly from the kitchen. “My next-door neighbor, Pierre, is a pilot and is gone much of the time. He has a big yellow Labrador retriever, so if you see a dog, don’t freak out. We put a dog door in between our two dens so Max can come and go as he pleases. He’ll beg for a walk in the morning from whoever gets up first. Most of the time, Pierre pays the family down the block to feed and walk the dog when he’s traveling, but we have our share of bonding time too. I always know when Pierre is gone for the night, because Max sleeps next to my bed and I nearly trip on him when I get up in the middle of the night to pee and when I get out of bed in the morning.”

  CC grinned. “That sounds kind of neat. It’s like a community dog. It has to be the best of all worlds for him with all the ‘family’ members taking care of him,” she commented.

  “Yeah, when you meet him you’ll see that he’s far from neglected. He probably should lose a few pounds, but when he looks at you with those big brown eyes, you can’t resist giving him a treat. He’s really a gentle guy,” Gwen said, bringing a tray into the living room. She had cut up cheese and sausage to put on sesame crackers, and had a bowl for each of them with romaine lettuce covered with a generous amount of shrimp and drizzled with a fragrant dressing.

  “Hang on, I’ll get the wine,” Gwen said, hurrying back into the kitchen. She was back with a bottle of cabernet and two glasses. She lit the kindling and started a fire in the fireplace.

  While they filled their plates, they started chatti
ng about their likes and dislikes, achievements and disappointments. Gwen felt very comfortable talking with this woman, which was amazing, since she was usually very cautious when meeting someone new.

  “The dressing on this salad is wonderful,” CC said between bites.

  Gwen looked at her and caught the deep pools of blue in her expressive eyes. “It’s actually Chinese sesame oil mixed with mayonnaise. I’m glad you like it.” Was it possible she was feeling the instant attraction also?

  CC blushed and looked away shyly. “Everything is delicious. I hadn’t realized how hungry I was,” she admitted.

  “I love to cook, but I’m not that good in the kitchen,” Gwen said, “Besides I don’t have much time for it, so I keep easy-to-prepare meals around. That way I have something decent to eat when I get home, instead of filling up with my favorite junk foods.”

  “Thank you,” CC said when they’d finished eating. “Let me do the cleanup.”

  CC picked up the bowls, carefully placed them on the tray with the leftover cheese and crackers, and went into the kitchen. There were several other dishes in the sink from Gwen’s preparation of the food, so she found the dish soap and filled the sink with hot water.

  Gwen stood back watching, contemplating her next move. What did she have to lose, she thought. The worst that could happen would be that CC would leave and not allow Gwen to see her again outside of work. Gwen steeled herself for rejection and made up her mind to take the plunge.

  As CC was still washing the dishes, Gwen came up behind her and put her arms around her. When CC turned her head, Gwen’s lips met hers. She didn’t resist Gwen’s long, tender kiss. The electricity between them was full of passion and desire.

  When they finally parted, CC said, “My God, I should wash your dishes more often!”

  Gwen laughed. “Then you didn’t mind?”

  “Hell, no. I really like you a lot, Gwen. I wish it wasn’t so late and we didn’t have to be back to work so early in the morning.”

  “Stay for one more glass of wine. Please?” Gwen asked.

  “I’d like that,” CC said softly.

  This time they sat on the couch holding hands and watching the burning logs die down in the fireplace. As they finished their wine, Gwen pulled CC close to her and gave her another long and passionate kiss. Her hand started stroking CC’s arm, but soon found the softness of her breast. The heat of her body grew and she felt the ache and longing of her desire, yearning to take this passion to the next level.

  CC pulled away slowly and said softly, “My God, Gwen. If I don’t leave now, neither one of us will get a wink of sleep tonight.”

  “Uh-huh,” Gwen said, nibbling her neck.

  “Gwen…shit!”

  Gwen bolted upright alarmed, and asked with concern, “I’m sorry, did I hurt you?”

  “No, just the opposite. I want to take it slowly. I want it to be the right time, when we don’t have to rush. I really have to go, Gwen. It’s getting late. It’s almost midnight. I know this is a very emotional case for you. Please, let’s not rush into anything we’ll be sorry for later. I enjoy working with you, and I really like you. I just—well, I wasn’t prepared to get into a relationship.”

  “Yeah. I know. Pick you up tomorrow?”

  “No, I have to go to the lab to go over more of the evidence with Charlie. I told him I’d let him know if we wanted him to run any other tests. Maybe lunch…or dinner at my place? We can talk more then.”

  “Both?” Gwen asked, laughing.

  “Let’s see how the day goes. Thanks again for the wonderful time,” CC said as she rose to leave.

  “Thank you,” Gwen said and almost leaned over to kiss her once more after she’d helped CC into her coat and boots. She’d stopped herself just in time.

  “Whew, that woman is hot!” Gwen said to herself, watching CC’s car drive away.

  Chapter Twelve

  The following day was jam-packed with following up on leads. The Chief had set up a hotline for people to call with any information regarding the two murders. They often received valuable and useful information from a hotline, but the downside was that every crackpot in the city could also call in with misleading and erroneous tips. Each bit of information had to be analyzed to make sure they weren’t ignoring pertinent information.

  Gwen was pleased with Chief Ziegler’s decision to allow Tony Maglia to assist the task force. She also was given three more uniformed officers to follow up on the numerous calls coming in. Gwen felt they had an outstanding team with these new additions, along with Jaxon Thomas following up on anything that Vice or its informants came up with. On the downside, they were losing Jenny to one of the other teams, which was short on personnel.

  Gwen picked up a stack of messages when she came into the precinct, and after making several calls, she found three that she wanted to follow up on. On her way out, she stopped at the lab and found CC deep in conversation with the chemist, Charlie Iwo, talking over something they were examining under the microscope. She pointed to her phone and CC nodded, understanding Gwen’s request to call her later. They could meet up when CC was finished in the lab. Gwen waved and left the building.

  Her first stop was the small pharmacy two blocks from Kathy’s apartment. It appeared that Kathy had charged most of her purchases. She learned from the pharmacy records that Kathy had bought three pregnancy tests within a three-day period, about a month prior to her death. It was here also that she had filled a prescription for methadone, one of the medications prescribed for the treatment of substance abuse. This was further evidence that Kathy was taking her treatment to curb her addiction seriously. The pharmacist remembered having a lengthy conversation about the use of the drug and her pregnancy, and had advised her about other vitamins she would need to start taking regularly if she were indeed pregnant. The druggist, a robust man in his late fifties, remembered Kathy being a pleasant person, but one who seemed deeply worried about her future, especially after she had confided in him about the pregnancy.

  Gwen’s next stop was a good friend of Cyndi Jeffries. The woman, a tiny Asian, had a nervous habit of biting her cuticles and did so constantly as she reluctantly told Gwen that Cyndi had been happy-go-lucky until she had become friends with Kathy.

  “Sure,” Mindy Lei admitted, “Cyndi did hooking to earn her living, but she was generous and loving to her friends and family. She didn’t take any shit from her customers, and wouldn’t have anything to do with the local pimps. She was her own person. She didn’t do drugs much, unless Kathy wanted to party and wanted someone to go with her to the local bars. They got free drinks and drugs from guys looking for a good time. Cyndi was quite a looker, and attracted lots of men. I went along a couple times. That Kathy was real trouble. She’d party hearty and not care who or what she did when she was high.”

  “Any man in particular Cyndi or Kathy spent a lot of time with?” Gwen asked.

  “Lordy, yes.” Mindy smiled. “Cyndi was good at what she did, and had many a repeat customer. I don’t think I ever saw Kathy with the same man twice though.”

  “Cyndi mention anyone who got rough with her?” Gwen probed.

  “Nah, she stayed away from those types. The only one I heard her complain about was that top cop man. He was related to Kathy somehow. Said he liked it rough and she’d had to put him in his place.”

  “Do you remember his name?” Gwen asked in surprise.

  “Lady, everyone in this neighborhood knows that guy. Wright’s what they call him.”

  Gwen grimaced, but didn’t let on that she was surprised to hear the police captain was a regular customer. Gwen’s blood began to simmer as she thought about how Captain Wright was taking advantage of these people for his own pleasure.

  Twenty minutes later, Gwen pounded on the door in one of the tenements down the block from Cyndi’s flophouse, the last place on her list. A tired-looking black man, perhaps in his eighties, shuffled to the door. Over a multicolored turtleneck sweater he was wearing a
brown bathrobe cinched tightly around his waist, and worn tennis shoes without laces.

  “I’m Detective Meyers, Scarletsville PD,” Gwen said, showing her badge.

  He slowly unclasped the safety chain and moved aside so Gwen could enter the dingy apartment.

  “You called our help line indicating you might have seen something related to the murder of Cyndi Jeffries?” Gwen asked.

  “Yessum,” he replied.

  “Can you tell me what you saw?” Gwen probed.

  “Come on in and have a seat. Getcha a cup of tea.”

  “No thanks, uh, Mr. Davies.”

  “Lionel,” he said, ignoring her.

  He moved into the kitchen and carefully poured tea into two chipped, porcelain teacups. “Cream or sugar?”

  “No, this is fine, thank you,” Gwen replied, taking the seat he indicated at the rusty card table in his kitchen.

  Gwen waited patiently as he poured honey into his cup, stirred, and took small sips until he was satisfied with the brew.

  “What did you see that could help us?” Gwen urged.

  “You know the man they call Cap’n hangs around a lot,” he said slowly.

  “Yes, I know,” Gwen answered. “His daughter lived with Cyndi for a time.”

  “Always fights. Every time he come, miss. There be yelling and screaming.”

  “Were you in the house, or did you hear the disturbance from outside?” Gwen asked.

  “I always been on the outside. I walk my dog in dis’ alley behind those houses.” He pointed in the direction of Cyndi’s house, and then returned his attention to the living room.

  Gwen noticed for the first time that a small, skinny beagle cowered under a coffee table in the next room.

  “When was the last time you saw the captain at Cyndi’s?”

 
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